Air strikes killed at least 23 civilians, including five children, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus on Wednesday (7 February), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

This latest bombardment came the day after at least 80 people were killed by air strikes in the same region, again according the British-based war monitor.

IBTimes UK shares photos taken in Eastern Ghouta over the last two days. They show streets in the stricken area covered in all-enveloping dust on Monday as one strike after another hit the same neighbourhoods; members of the White Helmets pull survivors from the debris of destroyed homes; blood-soaked children are patched up in makeshift hospitals. The same scenes are repeated again on Tuesday.

Douma Ghouta Syria
7 February 2018: A man at a makeshift morgue checks the bodies of victims of air strikes on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in the eastern Ghouta region Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP

On Monday, at least 28 people were killed in the Ghouta region, while on Sunday, a suspected chlorine attack left a dozen people suffering from breathing difficulties. The Observatory puts the number of people killed in the area since 29 January at 384, including 94 children.

"Minute after minute, the number of casualties rises," a rescuer from the White Helmets said in a video from eastern Ghouta posted on the group's Facebook page. "No area at all in Ghouta is safe. ... We don't know what to say."

The air strikes and shelling have overwhelmed rescue workers. The United Nations called for an immediate, month-long cease-fire in order to deliver critical humanitarian aid and medical care to civilians across the country. The UN mission in Damascus warned of "dire consequences" to the humanitarian crises in Syria, identifying seven areas needing urgent relief. The ongoing fighting and deliberate obstructions by forces were preventing aid organisations from reaching civilians, it said.

The Ghouta region, east of the capital Damascus, is home to nearly 400,000 people trapped by the violence and tightening siege.

It has been under intense attack since the end of December as the government of President Bashar Assad struggles to bring it under control. Activists say the campaign in Ghouta escalated after rebels there refused to join peace talks hosted by Russia last month.

The punishing campaign by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, has also battered the northwestern province of Idlib, the largest area under opposition control in Syria. The Idlib offensive has hit hospitals and residential buildings, and has intensified after militants in Idlib shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet near the town of Saraqeb over the weekend.

The children's organisation Save the Children said in a statement that the escalation in the opposition-held enclave of Idlib is placing thousands of children in extreme danger. It said more than 30 schools supported by Save the Children and its partners in the area have had to close temporarily due to security fears. Hundreds of families, many of whom have already been displaced and left living in tents that provide no shelter from bombs or shells, have come under increasing fire and have been left with almost nowhere left to turn, it added.